A new television programme has started on TV, I have been informed. It is called ‘The World Cup’ and it follows the adventures of a team of sportsmen who long to triumph in an international tournament. As with ‘Lost’, there has been intense speculation regarding the way in which this TV show will end. Will the team win? Will they lose? Will it transpire that they are in fact in purgatory, and can only hope to escape by beating the devil in a high-stakes game of soccer? Will the tournament go on for 18 seasons? Don’t look at me, chum. I’m just a pundit. Here is my review of one of the episodes of ‘The World Cup’, entitled ‘Phantoms’…
Kickoff! Each of the teams assumes the top-secret formation that they discussed secretly before the game commenced, in a secret room. The good team are arranged in the shape of a fleet sparrow. The bad team lounge and lope in unseemly fashion, as one might expect of a group of foreigners. The ball is coveted deeply by each of the participants. Shall I be the one to guide the ball into the snug silken weave between the goalposts, each of the players scarcely dares to ask him or herself. Touch! Pass! Dribble! Shoot! But, alas, no goal. Good effort, young man. Try not to be dispirited. There will be other opportunities to demonstrate your skill-set.
It is half-time. Yes! The hearty, barrel-chested sportsmen punch the air. A well-deserved break. They bound away on round pork-joint calves to the changing rooms, where a heavenly bowl of the finest porcelain awaits, replete with the juicy quarters of a thousand curvaceous oranges. “Scrummo” shouts the team captain and plunges his hand into the sensuous citrus well. He pulls out a wet specimen and bites into it. The orange sap runs down his chin and becomes enmeshed in the sweaty pubic mat that adorns his well-honed teats. It is a religious experience. The others are shyer. They glance furtively at the oranges and twiddle their whiskers. “Come on boys, tuck in!” shouts the coach. Now they have the all clear from Coachy, it is a free for all. They gorge themselves bloodily on the meat and viscera of a panting, perspiring orange grove. Scrummo indeed, Captain. Scrummo indeed.
The second half rolls around. They put on a good show, and every man pulls his weight. The victors have the edge over the opposition. As the whistle blows, there are tears. But don’t be sad: the tears will dry before bedtime, and each of those brave, hearty boys will dream happily of the bright oranges of Ceylon.
This pivotal episode features standout performances by Michael Cera as the maverick and yet moralistic ‘Left-Winger’ and the late Dennis Hopper as ‘The Coach’. Hopper obviously knew he was going to die when the final scenes were shot, and so he played them like a crazy kamikaze spatula, flipping out pungent lines as if they were hunks of dramatic mackerel. He did not go gentle into the good night, readers will be relieved to hear.
There is an extremely suspenseful moment during the second half, in which Cera discovers a shoe full of genetic evidence behind the football stadium. He runs an analysis on it in his portable laboratory, which he sets up in the changing rooms, and discovers that the referee was the rapist. After the game is finished, Cera informs the authorities, and the rapist referee gets put in rapist prison where he belongs. Shortly after, a FIFA representative tells Cera he is sticking his nose into dangerous waters. Cera says “this shit goes deep, doesn’t it?” The FIFA representative says “Take this as a friendly warning, Left-Winger” and walks off with a studied insouciance.
In short this is pretty exciting stuff. I can’t wait for the box set!